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USDA Market News – the Eyes and Ears of American Agriculture

Since 1915, the Market Reporters of USDA have tracked and reported the markets for agricultural products on a daily basis, both domestically and internationally.  With hundreds of daily reports, Market News provides timely, reliable and unbiased information that helps facilitate the efficient marketing of agricultural commodities and helps to “level the playing field” by ensuring that all market participants have access to the same information at the same time.  The motto of Market News is: “Get it, Get it Right, Get it Out.”

USDA reports markets for fruits and vegetables, livestock and grain, poultry and egg products, dairy, and cotton and tobacco.  Reports cover sales at various levels in the marketplace, movement or shipments of product, and other key market factors such as demand and other impacts on the market at that moment in time.  Market reports issued by USDA are frequently relied upon for value determination in a wide range of applications.  These include price setting at the farm or nearby locations, dispute resolution, insurance settlements, loan appraisal, and as the basis in many contracts.

In order to get information out as quickly as possible, USDA partners with the media, universities, industry associations and others to disseminate market reports and market information.  Market News uses not only the web-based Market News Portal to get reports and information out, but also telephone recorders, RSS feeds, “mobile reports” for cell phones, and self-subscription email delivery.

One of the newer areas of market coverage for Market News is in the retail sector.  The National Retail reports cover the weekly ads at hundreds of supermarket chains covering thousands of stores on a regional and national basis.  These weekly features are enormous drivers in the marketplace and the new reports have been widely embraced by the public.

These reports can be useful to producers in establishing value for their products – either sold directly to consumers at farmers’ markets or at their farm stands.  As the National Retail Report shows ad prices for specific products by region, sellers have a means to directly compare advertised prices for their area and to make adjustments or set their prices for those same products accordingly.   The report also reflects when products are advertised as locally grown, giving producers additional information to base their marketing and pricing decisions on.

Another new area of coverage is the local Farmers’ Auctions and State-Operated Farmers Markets.   These auctions have grown tremendously in number over the last decade in support of the growing demand for locally grown product, primarily fruits and vegetables.  The auctions give local producers an opportunity, in essence, to aggregate their product into larger lots, thereby attracting a larger buyer population than they otherwise would be able to all the while AMS Market News facilitates a competitive and informed marketplace.

If you’d like to learn more about Market News, the next webinar in the Fruit and Vegetable Programs series, Market News Portal Training—How to Get the Most out of USDA’s Market News Reports and Information,” will take place on Feb. 24, 2011 at 2 p.m. ET.

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